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Legal Procedures of Buying Land to Avoid Scam

Author 3 years ago

By Moses Adongo

Land value has over the last decade skyrocketed as a majority of Kenyans venture into real estate. This growing interest in land ownership has been occasioned by the equally increasing scarcity of the resource. Unlike before, when families didn’t mind much about where their generations would settle in due to large trucks of communally owned land, parents have nowadays been forced into saving and purchasing property for their future generations.

The process of buying land is so demanding that when dubious land sellers swindle the suspecting buyers, many of them are left living with lifetime depression. The government has, however, often enacted laws to curb land conmanship by guiding and regulating purchase.

Below is the legal procedure that if adhered to, could prevent a buyer from the risk of getting into a dubious deal;

Searching at the ministry of lands.

The first action to take when purchasing land is doing a search at the ministry of lands at the county headquarter. This will enable you to establish the availability of the property as well as the legitimacy of the owner. It also helps the buyer to trace the previous owners of the land. Usually carrying out a land search costs Ksh520, taking as low as two hours and not beyond six months.

Land rates.

The next step involves verifying if there exist outstanding land rates. This process is done at the county or municipal council within the jurisdiction where the land lies. Establishing existence of outstanding land rates helps the buyer to factor such when negotiating for the land price. Once you determine that there are no outstanding rates, the local council will issue you with a clearance certificate. The cost of this certificate varies depending on different towns, in Nairobi for instance, the certificate costs Ksh7,500 and will normally take about two hours to process.

Land Map.

The next step will involve accessing the maps of the location of the land. To carry out this exercise, it is safe to engage your local surveyor. There exist two types of maps, the first one is typically drawn to scale, while the second one highlights the neighboring plots.

Usually, each map will cost you Ksh300 and can be purchased from the Ministry of Lands.

Ground verification.

The acquisition of the land map will facilitate your next step which involves verifying the physical location of the land. Your surveyor will help you trace and confirm the dimensions of the property, making sure they represent what is in the map.

The surveyor will also help you spot each beacon and replace missing ones at a fee of Ksh1,000 per beacon.  During this process, make sure that potential neighbors agree to the positioning of the boundaries to avoid future disputes.


The next step is making an agreement with the seller, which the law requires that it should be done in writing, and in the presence of a lawyer. According to the Law Society of Kenya, the amount paid to the lawyer and which is between the buyer and the seller should be Sh3000 for land that costs up to Ksh1,000,000 and a maximum of Ksh8,000 that mark.

Always ensure the seller’s spouse is present during this session to prevent complains that may arise in future.

Post agreement transaction.

This step involves payment of the land fees which can be done either in cash or installment depending on the agreement. Before you make the first payment, always ensure that the title deed and other relating documents are in the custody of the lawyer. This is mainly to prevent the seller from making any other transaction with the land, for example, using the land as surety for a bank loan.

The Land Control Board.

This stage involves meeting with the land control board for final consent. The forum which comprises local village elders, as well as the county commissioners, will give the transaction its blessings after ascertaining that there is no danger of any dispute that might arise in future. The forum costs Ksh1,000.

Land transfer. 

After making all payments, the seller will be required to sign the Land Transfer Form which will give you ownership after an approval by the Ministry of Lands. The form will be attached with old title deed, KRA PIN, passport photos, sale agreement, local council clearance, and land search. You will be charged Ksh5,000 for processing of new passport.

Transfer fees and Stamp duty.

You will be required to pay a stamp duty depending on the value of the land. Usually, the government charges 2% duty for reserve and 4% for municipalities.

Post-purchase activity

One week after you complete the land purchase, check with the Ministry of Lands to ensure the land has been transferred to your name.

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